Learning To Grow In The Gospel
The birth of a baby is just the beginning of the process of growth to maturity. The infant has a wonderful new body and mind but does not know how to use or control it. In the same way, new Christians have all the potential of the life of God but are vulnerable until they have learned how to live as a mature adult.
Paul the Apostle knew all the dangers new believers would face. To be born again is wonderful, but to become mature takes time, training, correction and lots of encouragement. How was it going to happen, and who would help? Paul was so far away, under house arrest and unable to travel to this new church. So He did two things: first he prayed for them, and secondly he sent a letter (the Epistle to the Colossians), personally couriered by Tychicus who was accompanied by Onesemus (Colossians 4:7-9). At the same time, Paul ensured that the other two churches in the Lycos valley (in Laodicea and Hierapolis) facing the same issues, should also have the letter read there (Colossians 4:13-16).
So prayer, Godly instruction, organisation and logistics all came together to help the churches resist wrong teaching and learn how to grow mature in Christ. The message alone was not enough ... it had to be delivered by people who could be trusted. Of course, the background to all this communication was prayer. Paul trusted that God alone would guard them until the letter came and He was growing them in faith - so he prayed that the Holy Spirit's wise counsel would operate in the churches, and that they would allow Him to fill them with truth and discernment. However, prayer was only part of his responsibility. Paul also knew that he had a part to play: he was under God's authority to write a letter, and that letter was all part of God's work in their lives (and ours too!).
Self-centred Christians are a menace in the church. They do not seem to understand that in addition to receiving from others, they must also give in accordance with God's will. It all starts with prayer. Action without prayer is as bad as prayer without being willing to act. Yes, grace is all of God, but He chooses that His people are work colleagues in the gospel. Although they may know that principle, they remain inert. They have never really understood that they are designed to have a mature role in Christ's kingdom: instead they want to remain like spoon-fed infants. What a scandal! We cannot escape the Scripture that it is our responsibility to work with God so that the whole body of Christ grows up and functions maturely (Ephesians 4:15-16). So, who will you speak to about Jesus today, who will you write to, who might receive a forwards copy of this Word@Work? Pray about it, make the necessary decisions and do it; for His glory and the blessing of the church.
© Dr Paul Adams